Like so many millions across the globe, I deeply mourn the loss of one of our greatest real-life superheroes, Chadwick Boseman. To pay tribute and homage to him, my family rewatched his amazing performance in Black Panther. T'Challa was one of Boseman's most important roles both on and off the screen, as his portrayal of the heroic warrior and leader of the people of Wakanda inspired viewers of all ages. Re-visiting the futuristic city of Wakanda on screen caused me to reflect on how Blacks in America once had our own version of Wakanda: Black Wall Street.
2018's Black Panther was, and continues to be, one of the mainstream Hollywood films most celebrated within the Black community, and for good reason. For so many Black Americans, this was not just a movie. It was a vision of something that, until the film's release, existed only in many of their dreams and imaginations—a vivid, exhilarating, jubilant celebration of Blackness and African traditions and motifs, with every aspect of the film's production (e.g. costuming, makeup, music, production design) helping to bring that vision to stunning life.
People closest to me know that I've led somewhat of a nomadic life. After graduating from undergrad, I took a role that required me to move every nine months for a three year period. Since then, I've lived in over seven states, moving mostly for work but occasionally for personal reasons. In my last move, it took me less than 24 hours to make my apartment look like I have always lived there. I have nesting down to a science. For me, moving is always a fun adventure—I enjoy being in new spaces. One skill that I've acquired, rather unintentionally, is the ability to adapt very quickly to a new environment. And that includes friendships.
For the record, equity and equality are not the same things. If we are talking true equity, it means giving someone more than you, who has less than you, to elevate them to have the same as you. Are we all really ready to make this selfless sacrifice?
Well, if 2020 has shown us one thing, it is that we are all truly in this together. There is an African quote that says, "The wealth of a family/community is measured by the state of the poorest group/member and not the richest one," meaning we are measured by the level of lack in our society.
In March 2020, I created eat.plank.live—my first podcast. At the time, I had no prior experience in media other than my blog, Pivot Points; my creative creations were relatively limited. For context on how I started on this journey, I work in tech, and pre-COVID-19, I had a long shuttle commute to and from work every day; think one and a half hours one-way on a good day. To pass the time, I would listen to podcasts and fell in love with NPR's "How I Built This" moderated by Guy Raz. If you aren't familiar with the podcast, it's an excellent view of the struggles and ultimate rise of entrepreneurs across several industries.
For many Black professionals, it's an unspoken rule never to discuss race or politics at work. But the murder of George Floyd has opened the floodgates. Suddenly, race is dominating conversations. Black people are being bombarded with questions. They're publicly sharing their pain at company town halls and team meetings, leading to more exhaustion.
Race is an uncomfortable topic to discuss, especially in "mixed company." That's why my market research team at Driven to Succeed sponsored two closed-door, tell-all Community Dialogues via Zoom to talk about race—one with Black professionals and the other with white professionals, from Director to C-Suite plus a few entrepreneurs. Our goal was to build more empathy and understanding and to take steps toward healing to help end institutional racism. There were no right or wrong answers. Just an honest dialogue and diversity of opinions.
Building London Grant Co., a beauty-forward wellness brand, is the last thing that I saw for myself. I'd struggled with skin and weight challenges brought on by hormone imbalances for what felt like an eternity. Years of seeing "I-woke-up-like-this" flawless skin and naturally thin bodies projected in the media impacted the relationship I had with my own body. I thought, "Who am I to tell anyone about clean skincare?" But, after years of taking control of my well-living journey and overcoming those negative body images, I've realized that I'm just the girl for the job.
I didn't seek entrepreneurship in the THC-Free CBD business at first. It was something my partner, who is an addiction physician, nudged me towards while working in corporate America. When the coronavirus hit, we saw our friends and family suffering from anxiety and stress due to job loss, staying at home, lack of exercise, and uncertainty. We knew we had to do something to help, without relying on medication. If you go to a doctor and complain about anxiety, stress or depression, he/she will probably recommend medication as the first line of treatment. They bypass natural remedies, because they don't teach about them in medical school. That is where the problem lies with most people. We identified a problem where doctors did not look at viable alternative treatments and we wanted to change that.
We all have an identity, built over time from what we secretly hold dear. Whether that identity was formed from hurt, pain, joy, tears, or success, it so easily becomes the foundation of who we are. For many years, my identity was clear; I was a London Fashion Week Designer. My life was centered around my career, the success I'd built, and the outlandish goals I'd set out to achieve. I'd become a bit of a robot, immune to adversity, pressing onwards towards the goal no matter what. If someone didn't like me because I was Black, I didn't notice or didn't care. I was a force of determination and skill, and nothing was going to stop me. Or so I thought.
As the Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Marketing at Unilever, Mita's efforts to build an inclusive culture are being celebrated. Under her leadership, Unilever was named the #1 Company for Working Mothers by Working Mother Media in 2018. She also co-created the first of its kind Cultural Immersions series to increase the cultural competency of marketers training over 4,000 marketers to date.
Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is an entrepreneur, business leader, linguaphile, philanthropist, feminist, and mother. After living, studying, and working in five countries across the globe, Liz started TransPerfect out of an NYU dorm room. During her tenure as Co-CEO, she grew TransPerfect into the world's largest language solutions company, with over $600 million in revenue, 4,000+ employees, 11,000+ clients, and offices in more than 90 cities worldwide. Liz has been recognized as a NOW “Woman of Power & Influence", an Enterprising Women “Enterprising Woman of the Year," and one of Forbes' “Richest Self-Made Women."
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get any of the professional advice you need from this pioneering professional!
In 2006, CEO Shonda Scott created 360 Total Concept as part of the solution by providing management services to organizations needing support in public relations, monitoring and compliance, logistics, and facilities management. 360 is headquartered in San Francisco/Bay Area, with an office in Los Angeles, projects nationwide, and an international footprint.
Shonda, a fourth generation entrepreneur, has over two decades of business experience that she leverages to assist her firm's extensive client list with Turning Concepts into Reality. 360 has a portfolio of projects over $1.7 billion which includes industry giants such as BET, Uber, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, and international airports. 360 has provided support services such as creating diversity spending strategies, which have generated over $100 million earned by small local businesses.
In 2012, Shonda was appointed to President Obama's Platform Committee. Based on her civic and community leadership, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, in 2006, recognized Shonda as a CBC Young Leader. Shonda was inducted into Alameda County's Women's Hall of Fame in 2018 for her business acumen.
In addition to her entrepreneurial and civic work, Ms. Scott is the executive producer and host of a talk show "Spotlight with Shonda Scott," a lifestyle show highlighting local and national influencers and unsung heroes.
For more information on Shonda, please visit: shondascott.com.